Transcript: Minxin Pei | Nov 26, 2006

[Theme music plays]

The opening sequence rolls. The logo of "Big Ideas" featuring a lit lamp bulb appears against an animated orange slate.
Then, Andrew Moodie appears in the studio. The walls are decorated with screens featuring lit lamp bulbs, and two signs read "Big Ideas."
Andrew is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short curly black hair. He's wearing a black robe.

He says HELLO.
I'M ANDREW MOODIE AND WELCOME TO
BIG IDEAS.
OR RATHER...
[Speaking in Chinese]
ANDREW MOODIE.
THAT'S THE BEST MANDARIN I CAN
MUSTER...
AND IT'S IN HONOUR OF OUR NEXT
SPEAKER, MINXIN PEI.
YOU ARE ABOUT TO HEAR AN ACCOUNT
OF MODERN CHINA AND A LOOMING
CRISIS THAT WILL CHANGE THE
NATION OF 1.3 BILLION TO THE
CORE AND THE REST OF THE WORLD
WITH IT.
MINXIN PEI IS A SENIOR ASSOCIATE
AND DIRECTOR OF THE CHINA
PROGRAM AT THE CARNEGIE
ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL
PEACE IN WASHINGTON.
HE IS ALSO THE AUTHOR OF THE
RECENTLY-PUBLISHED
CHINA'S TRAPPED TRANSITION:
THE LIMITS OF DEVELOPMENTAL AUTOCRACY.
THERE IS NO ESCAPING CHINA SO PAY ATTENTION.

A clip plays in which Minxin Pei stands behind a lectern on a small stage and addresses an audience. A banner on the lectern reads "MaRS." To his left, three men in their fifties sit at a long conference table.
Minxin is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit, white shirt, and burgundy tie.

He says WHAT DETERMINES
CHINA'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
REST OF THE WORLD?
IT'S NOT JUST THE SIZE AND THE
SPEED OF GROWTH OF THE CHINESE
ECONOMY, ABOUT WHICH YOU MUST
HAVE HEARD A LOT IF NOT TOO
MUCH.
I THINK WHAT DETERMINES CHINA'S
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE REST OF
THE WORLD IN THE DECADES TO COME
IS REALLY THE NATURE OF THE
CHINESE POLITICAL SYSTEM BECAUSE
I THINK...
LET ME JUST MODIFY THAT
STATEMENT.
WHAT DETERMINES CHINA'S
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WEST,
AND OF COURSE THEN THE REST OF
THE WORLD, IS THE WAY THE
CHINESE POLITICAL SYSTEM IS
ORGANIZED.
AND THE DIRECTION IN WHICH THAT
POLITICAL SYSTEM IS EVOLVING.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Minxin Pei. Senior Associate and Director, China Program, Carnegie Endowment for international peace. MaRS Collaboration Centre, Toronto. September 6, 2006."

Minxin continues SO, TODAY, I WILL
FIRST SAY SOMETHING ABOUT HOW
THAT POLITICAL EVOLUTION HAS
BEEN GOING ON IN CHINA SINCE
CHINA OPENED ITS DOORS TO THE
REST OF THE WORLD ABOUT 30 YEARS
AGO.
AND THEN I WILL
DISCUSS THE NATURE OF THE
CHINESE POLITICAL SYSTEM TODAY
AND THEN, FINALLY, WE'LL TALK
ABOUT HOW THAT POLITICAL SYSTEM
INTERACTS WITH THE REST OF THE
WORLD.
ABOUT 30 YEARS AGO, WHEN CHINA
BEGAN ITS OPENING TO THE REST OF
THE WORLD, CHINA WAS,
PRACTICALLY SPEAKING, WHAT NORTH
KOREA WAS TODAY.
IT WAS JUST OUT A 2-DECADE
NIGHTMARE OF RADICAL COMMUNIST
RULE.
IT WAS GOVERNED BY A
MEGALOMANIAC, DICTATORIAL
LEADER, WHOSE SOLE INTEREST WAS
THE PERPETUATION OF HIS OWN
POWER BUT NOT THE WELFARE OF HIS
PEOPLE.
BUT I THINK THANKS TO THE
LEADERSHIP OF Mr. DENG XIAOPING
AND HIS COLLEAGUES, CHINA
DECIDED TO GO IN A VERY
DIFFERENT DIRECTION.
AND AFTER 30 YEARS, THE COUNTRY
IS NOW ALMOST COMPLETELY
TRANSFORMED, ESPECIALLY
ECONOMICALLY.
AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE GENERAL
PATTERNS OF POLITICAL EVOLUTION,
I WOULD SAY ON THE WHOLE THE
COUNTRY HAS MADE ENORMOUS
POSITIVE PROGRESS MEASURED
PRACTICALLY ON ALL DIMENSIONS.
IN TERMS OF PERSONAL FREEDOM,
TODAY, THE CHINESE PEOPLE ENJOY
MORE PERSONAL FREEDOMS THAN
PROBABLY THEY HAVE EVER ENJOYED
IN MODERN MEMORY, RANGING FROM
ACCESS TO INFORMATION...
THE ABILITY TO TRAVEL...
AND THE ABILITY TO FIND GAINFUL
EMPLOYMENT IN CHINA.
SOCIAL MOBILITY IN CHINA, AS A
RESULT OF ECONOMIC REFORM, HAS
ALSO INCREASED A GREAT DEAL.
YESTERDAY, I READ IN THE CHINESE
PRESS, THEY'VE JUST COME OUT
WITH THE EQUIVALENT OF FORBES'
400 RICHEST PEOPLE IN CHINA
AND TOPPING THE LIST IS SOMEBODY
YOU WOULD NEVER IMAGINE.
FIRST OF ALL, IT'S A LADY.
SHE...
SO THE RICHEST PERSON IN CHINA
IS A WOMAN.
AND THEN IF YOU FIND...
IF YOU'D TRY TO FIND WHERE SHE
MADE HER FORTUNE, AN AREA,
AGAIN, NOBODY WOULD'VE EVER
THOUGHT.
SHE MADE HER FORTUNE BY,
LITERALLY, PICKING THE GARBAGE.
BY GETTING INTO THE WASTEPAPER
BUSINESS.
BUT...
I THINK IF YOU PUT THE SOCIAL
MOBILITY IN THERE WITH YOUR
FREEDOM AND ECONOMIC
OPPORTUNITIES, THE CHINESE
PEOPLE OUGHT TO BE VERY PROUD OF
WHAT THEY HAVE ACHIEVED IN THE
LAST 30 YEARS.
I THINK WHAT IS MORE PROBLEMATIC
IS THE POLITICAL SYSTEM BECAUSE
I...
NOTICE I'VE SEPARATED THE
POLITICS FROM SOCIAL,
INDIVIDUAL, CULTURAL, AND
ECONOMIC ACHIEVEMENTS.
AS A POLITICAL SCIENTIST, I
THINK POLITICS IS THE KEY
BECAUSE POLITICAL POWER
DETERMINES GOVERNMENT POLICIES
THAT ACTUALLY CONTROL CULTURAL
ACTIVITIES, EDUCATION, SOCIAL
MOBILITY, ECONOMIC POLICY...
EVERYTHING.
SO I THINK, AT THE END OF THE
DAY, WE HAVE TO LOOK AT
POLITICS.
WHETHER CHINA WILL CONTINUE
ALONG THIS DYNAMIC PAST TOWARD
MORE OPENNESS, ECONOMIC
PROGRESS...
INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM REALLY
DEPENDS ON WHETHER ITS POLITICAL
SYSTEM WILL EVOLVE TOWARD A MORE
LIBERAL, OPEN, AND DEMOCRATIC
DIRECTION.
AND HERE WE SEE A HUGE PUZZLE
BECAUSE, ON THE OTHER
INDICATORS, CHINA'S PROGRESS IS
BEYOND DISPUTE.
BUT IF YOU LOOK VERY NARROWLY AT
THE AREA OF POLITICAL
GOVERNANCE, OF POLITICAL
DEMOCRACY, THEN YOU WILL START
WONDERING WHETHER THE CHINA YOU
ARE LOOKING AT IS THE SAME CHINA
YOU HEAR SO MUCH ABOUT AND ALSO
YOU HAVE SO MUCH HOPES FOR
BECAUSE, IF YOU MEASURE
DEMOCRACY, MEASURE THE RULE OF
LAW, CHINA HAS MADE MUCH LESS
PROGRESS.
I'M NOT SAYING THAT CHINA
REMAINS IN THE DARK AGES.
CHINA IS NOT.
CHINA TODAY, AS EVEN IN TERMS OF
POLITICAL EVOLUTION, HAS MADE
ENORMOUS PROGRESS.
BUT OF COURSE, THE BASELINE WAS
SO LOW, SO WHEN PEOPLE TELL YOU
THAT, "AH, WE'RE MUCH BETTER
TODAY THAN WE WERE 30 YEARS
AGO," I WOULD TYPICALLY
RESPOND, YOU NEVER REALLY WANT
TO GO BACK TO THE DAYS OF THE
CULTURAL REVOLUTION.
BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE IN CHINA
WILL SAY, "THAT'S OUR TRAGIC
PAST, WE'VE SAID GOODBYE TO IT.
WHAT INTERESTS US IS WHERE CHINA
WILL BE 30 YEARS FROM NOW."
AND OUR COMPARATIVE COUNTRIES,
THE COUNTRIES WE WOULD LIKE TO
COMPARE OURSELVES WITH ARE NOT
GOING TO BE NORTH KOREA, IRAN,
BURMA, ZIMBABWE, THOSE PARIAH
STATES.
WE'RE GOING TO COMPARE OURSELVES
VERY PROUDLY WITH COUNTRIES THAT
ARE ASSOCIATED WITH PERSONAL
LIBERTIES, PERSONAL FREEDOMS,
AND POLITICAL DEMOCRACY.
AND THAT OBVIOUSLY WOULD MEAN
THE WESTERN INDUSTRIAL
DEMOCRACIES.
SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE CURVE,
AND YOU CAN MEASURE IT IN ALL
KINDS OF WAYS, UH...
POLITICAL FREEDOM, THE RULING
ELITE'S COMMITMENT TO POLITICAL
REFORM, I WOULD SAY THAT, WHILE
THE CHINESE ECONOMY HAS BEEN
GOING IN THIS DIRECTION, THE
POLITICAL EVOLUTION IN CHINA IS
LIKE THIS.
INITIALLY, WHEN CHINA BEGAN ITS
OPENING TO THE REST OF THE
WORLD, CHINA'S POLITICAL
PROGRESS WAS THAT FAR BEHIND ITS
ECONOMIC PROGRESS BECAUSE THE
LEADERSHIP IN THE 80s ACTUALLY
UNDERSTOOD THAT, TO SUSTAIN
ECONOMIC OPENING TO THE WEST,
THEY MUST ALSO BRING THEIR
POLITICAL SYSTEM CLOSER IN LINE
WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD.
THAT'S WHY THEY INTRODUCED LEGAL
REFORM.
THAT'S WHY THEY BEGAN TO
EXPERIMENT WITH VILLAGE
ELECTIONS.
THAT'S WHY THEY THOUGHT MAYBE IT
MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA TO GIVE THE
NATIONAL LEGISLATURE SOME
AUTONOMOUS POWER SO THAT THERE'S
MORE DIVISION OF LABOUR WITHIN
GOVERNMENT, AND ALSO, THERE CAN
BE GROUNDS FOR EXPERIMENTING
WITH INSTITUTIONAL PLURALISM.
HOWEVER, AFTER THE TIANANMEN
TRAGEDY IN 1989, AND AFTER THE
COLLAPSE OF THE FORMER SOVIET
UNION, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY,
AFTER CHINA ENTERED THE 1990s
AND BEGAN ITS AMAZING ECONOMIC
TAKE-OFF, YOU SAW POLITICAL
TRENDS IN CHINA GOING THE
OPPOSITE DIRECTION.
WHERE ECONOMIC LIBERALIZATION
ACCELERATED, CHINESE POLITICS
OVERALL BECAME MORE
CONSERVATIVE.
AND THE PACE OF POLITICAL
REFORM, STRICTLY DEFINED IN
TERMS OF MORE COMPETITIVE
POLITICS, A STRONGER RULE OF
LAW, MORE CIVIC FREEDOMS
ESPECIALLY FOR NON-GOVERNMENTAL
ORGANIZATIONS, AND MORE
INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM IN THE
POLITICAL SPHERE.
MORE FREEDOMS FOR THE
INTELLIGENTSIA TO DISCUSS
SENSITIVE POLITICAL TOPICS SUCH
AS WHETHER CHINA SHOULD HAVE
POLITICAL COMPETITION...
MORE THAN ONE POLITICAL PARTIES.
WHETHER THE CHINESE CONSTITUTION
SHOULD HAVE REAL AUTHORITY
RATHER THAN THE SELF-CLAIMED
POWER OF THE CHINESE RULING
COMMUNIST PARTY.
THESE ARE VERY IMPORTANT AND
FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES FOR CHINESE
POLITICS.
IN THE 1980s, INTERESTINGLY,
THESE ISSUES ACTUALLY WERE OPEN
TO DEBATE.
IN THE 1990s, THEY WERE NOT.
SO HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS
DIVERGENCE...
ECONOMY GOING ONE WAY AND
POLITICS GOING IN ANOTHER WAY?
I ALWAYS SAY THERE ARE SEVERAL
REASONS.
BECAUSE NORMALLY, MOST OF US WHO
HAVE BEEN ACCUSTOMED TO THE
WESTERN HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE
WOULD AUTOMATICALLY ASSOCIATE
GROWING ECONOMIC PROSPERITY WITH
GROWING POLITICAL FREEDOM.
BUT IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE
RELATIONSHIP, IT IS NOT THAT
SIMPLE.
IT IS NOT LINEAR.
IT IS FAR MORE COMPLEX.
I ALWAYS SAY
THAT, IF WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND
WHY, IN THE SHORT TERM, ECONOMIC
PROSPERITY CAN BE ACTUALLY QUITE
A NEGATIVE DEVELOPMENT FOR
POLITICAL FREEDOM.
THIS
UNDERSTANDING IS CRUCIAL TO
TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF HOW TO
DEAL WITH CHINA.
HOW TO MAKE SENSE OF WHAT'S
ACTUALLY GOING ON IN CHINA.
WHAT IS THE MINDSET OF ITS
LEADERSHIP?
BECAUSE IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND
THE REASONS BEHIND THE POLITICAL
SLOWDOWN OR POLITICAL STAGNATION
IN CHINA, IT WILL BE VERY
DIFFICULT TO ENGAGE THE CHINESE
LEADERS IN A MEANINGFUL
DISCUSSION OF WHERE CHINA IS AND
WHERE YOU OUGHT TO GO.
YOU CANNOT MAKE PROSPERITY...
TYPICALLY PROVIDES A NEW SOURCE
OF POLITICAL LEGITIMACY.
TODAY, THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT
REALLY DEPENDS ON ITS ABILITY TO
DELIVER ECONOMIC GROWTH AS
JUSTIFICATION FOR ITS CLAIM TO
POLITICAL AUTHORITY.
IT IS REALLY A COMPETENCE-BASED
GOVERNMENT.
AND YOU LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF
POLITICAL DEMOCRATIZATION IN THE
DEVELOPING WORLD, YOU FIND THIS
VERY INTERESTING COINCIDENCE,
THAT IS, ALSO TEARING ONE-PARTY
PARTY REGIMES, TYPICALLY WOULD
NOT OPEN UP THE POLITICAL
PROCESS WHEN THE ECONOMY IS
GOING STRONG.
THEY HAVE NO NEED TO BECAUSE
THEY ALREADY HAVE THIS
PERFORMANCE-BASED LEGITIMACY.
WHY SHOULD THEY?
ON THE OTHER HAND, WHEN THEY
ACTUALLY DO OPEN UP THE
POLITICAL SYSTEM, TYPICALLY THEY
ENCOUNTER SEVERE ECONOMIC CRISES
OR, IN MANY CASES, THEY ACTUALLY
HAVE SUFFERED SPECTACULAR
ECONOMIC COLLAPSES.
SO IN OTHER WORDS, ECONOMIC
PROSPERITY IN THE SHORT TERM
BOLSTERS AUTHORITARIAN
GOVERNMENTS AND UNDERMINES THE
INCENTIVES FOR POLITICAL
OPENING.
SO THAT'S THE FIRST REASON.
SO IF YOU WANT TO...
I'M NOT SAYING THAT YOU HAVE TO
HAVE AN ECONOMIC CRISIS IN CHINA
IN ORDER TO HAVE POLITICAL
DEMOCRACY.
BECAUSE WHEN ECONOMIC CRISIS
HITS A COUNTRY, YOU LOSE CONTROL
OF THE POLITICAL PROCESS.
AND YOU REALLY CAN NEVER BE SURE
WHERE THE AFTER-CRISIS, A
GENUINELY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT,
WOULD COME TO POWER.
THE SECOND REASON IS LESS
OBVIOUS.
THAT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH THE
CALCULATION OF THE RULING ELITE.
POLITICAL POWER IN A POOR
COUNTRY IS NOT WORSE AS MUCH AS
POLITICAL POWER IN A RICH AND
INCREASINGLY...
IN A RICH ECONOMY GROWING VERY
FAST.
THAT'S BECAUSE THE NATURE OF THE
CHINESE ECONOMY IS NOT THAT OF A
FREE MARKET.
IT IS AN ECONOMY IN WHICH
POLITICAL POWER DEFINES PROPERTY
RIGHTS.
POLITICAL POWER CONTROLS THE
ECONOMIC RESOURCES.
IN OTHER WORDS, THE WAY WEALTH
IS CREATED IN THAT ECONOMY
DEPENDS A LOT ON POLITICAL
POWER.
SO IMAGINE YOURSELVES IN THE
SHOES OF THE RULING ELITES IN
SUCH A SYSTEM.
ALL OF A SUDDEN, YOU FIND THAT
YOUR POLITICAL POWER IS ACTUALLY
WORSE A LOT.
AND ITS VALUE IS INCREASING AS
ECONOMIC WEALTH IS INCREASING.
ARE YOU GOING TO BE MORE WILLING
TO GIVE UP POLITICAL POWER OR
LESS WILLING TO GIVE UP
POLITICAL POWER IN THIS
ENVIRONMENT?
I THINK THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUS
BECAUSE, IN THIS CONTEXT, YOU
ARE NOT JUST GIVING UP POLITICAL
POWER; YOU ARE GIVING UP
ECONOMIC WEALTH OR POTENTIAL FOR
HUGE ECONOMIC WEALTH.
THAT'S WHY, IN THE 1990s, THE
INCENTIVES FOR MORE COMPETITIVE
POLITICAL PROCESS ALMOST
DISAPPEARED BECAUSE INDIVIDUAL
INCENTIVES, COLLECTIVE
INCENTIVES OF THE RULING ELITES
ARE AT ODDS WITH THOSE OF THOSE
INDIVIDUALS WHO WANT TO SEE
CHINA HAS POLITICAL
LIBERALIZATION.
AND, FINALLY, WE ALSO TEND TO
FORGET THAT AUTHORITARIAN
POLITICAL PARTIES ARE LEARNING
ORGANIZATIONS.
AND TODAY, CHINA PROBABLY HAS
THE MOST SKILLFUL, CLEVER,
KNOWLEDGEABLE, COSMOPOLITAN
RULING ELITES THAN ANY OTHER
AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES AROUND THE
WORLD.
OF COURSE, IF YOU...
I'M SURE MANY OF YOU HAVE
PERSONAL CONTACTS WITH THEM.
THEY HAVE REALLY GREAT
HAIRSTYLE...
ARMANI SUITS...
THEY EVEN KNOW HOW TO MATCH
BLACK SOCKS WITH BLACK SHOES.
USED TO, WHITE SOCKS WITH BLACK
SHOES AND, UH...
BUT TODAY, THEY KNOW HOW...
WHAT KIND OF WINE TO ORDER...
VERY COSMOPOLITAN.
THEY KNOW EVERYTHING THAT'S
GOING ON IN IMPORTANT AREAS.
THEY'RE VERY ATTUNED TO POLICY
AS WELL.
SO THIS IS A GOVERNMENT WHICH IS
EXTREMELY CLEVER ON THREE
ISSUES.
ON FIRST ISSUE IS THAT IT IS
VERY SENSITIVE TO THE NEED TO
ADJUST POLICY IN ORDER TO
DEMONSTRATE ITS COMPETENCE.
THAT'S WHY, TODAY, AFTER CHINA...
AFTER THE CHINESE LEADERSHIP
SEES INEQUALITY, ENVIRONMENTAL
DEGRADATION, LACK OF ACCESS TO
HEALTHCARE AND EDUCATION, IT IS
NOW TALKING ABOUT HARMONIOUS
SOCIETY...
IT HAS AGRICULTURAL TAXES...
IT IS INCREASING HEALTH
EXPENDITURES...
ELIMINATING SCHOOL FEES FOR THE
POOR KIDS.
THAT'S PUBLIC POLICY ADJUSTMENT.
IT'S ACTUALLY RESPONSIVE IN SOME
LIMITED FASHION.
SECOND IS THAT IT ALSO
UNDERSTANDS THAT ECONOMIC WEALTH
PROVIDES IT WITH ENORMOUS
RESOURCES TO DO TWO THINGS IN
ORDER TO STAY IN POWER.
ONE THING IS TO CO-OPT OR
INCLUDE INTO THE RULING ALLIANCE
SOCIAL ELITES.
THE COMMUNIST PARTY 30 YEARS AGO
WAS A PARTY BASED ON THE SUPPORT
OF WORKERS AND PEASANTS.
IF YOU LOOK AT ITS MEMBERSHIP,
LOOK AT THE BACKGROUNDS OF ITS
LEADERS...
WORKERS AND PEASANTS
PREDOMINANTLY, AND MAYBE PIAO
LIN SOLDIERS.
BUT TODAY, IT IS A PARTY THAT IS
BASED ON A NARROW SLICE OF
CHINESE SOCIETY.
SOCIAL ELITES, MAINLY
TECHNOCRATS AND PROFESSIONALS.
AND THIS KIND OF PARTY REALLY
DOES NOT HAVE A LOT TO FEAR FROM
THE SO-CALLED ANGRY MASSES, BUT
IT DOES HAVE A LOT TO WORRY
ABOUT OTHER SOCIAL ELITES
BECAUSE ONE-PARTY REGIMES TEND
TO HAVE VERY STRONG COMPETITION
FROM OTHER SOCIAL ELITES...
INTELLIGENTSIA, PRIVATE
ENTREPRENEURS, BECAUSE THESE
SOCIAL ELITES CONTROL ENORMOUS
MORAL, ECONOMIC, PROFESSIONAL
RESOURCES.
IF YOU HAVE THEM AS YOUR
POTENTIAL ENEMY, YOU'RE IN BIG
TROUBLE.
SO, AS A RESULT OF ECONOMIC
GROWTH OF THE 1990s AND, MORE
IMPORTANTLY, THE LESSON FROM THE
COLLAPSE OF THE FORMER SOVIET
UNION, ONE OF THE LESSONS I
THINK THE CHINESE COMMUNIST
PARTY HAS LEARNED IS THAT YOU
MUST NOT HAVE THE INTELLIGENTSIA
IN THE OPPOSITION.
IF YOU HAVE THEM, YOU'RE ALWAYS
IN TROUBLE.
IF YOU LOOK AT THE FORMER SOVIET
UNION, IT ALWAYS HAD THE
INTELLIGENTSIA IN THE
OPPOSITION.
SO, AS A RESULT, I THINK THE
CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY BEGAN A
VERY SYSTEMATIC EFFORT TO
INCLUDE NEW SOCIAL ELITES INTO
THE COMMUNIST PARTY IN GIVING
THEM EVEN GOVERNMENT POSITIONS
AND LATELY IT HAS EXPANDED ITS
CAMPAIGN TO INCLUDE PRIVATE
ENTREPRENEURS.
THAT'S VERY, VERY SUCCESSFUL.
SO IT HAS A BIGGER AND MORE
CAPABLE RULING COALITION.
AND THE THIRD POINT IS THAT
ECONOMIC GROWTH ALSO ALLOWS THE
GOVERNMENT TO INVEST A GREAT
DEAL IN LAW ENFORCEMENT IN A
CAPACITY TO DEAL WITH PROTESTS
FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE UNHAPPY WITH
THE CURRENT SYSTEM.
SO TODAY, CHINA HAS THIS NICE
MIXTURE OF CARROTS AND STICKS.
CARROTS, THE CO-OPTATION OF THE
ELITES, INCLUDING THEM IN THE
GOVERNING PROCESS; AND THEN THE
STICKS...
VERY TOUGH MEASURES AGAINST
THOSE WHO OPENLY WANT TO
CHALLENGE THE GOVERNMENT'S
AUTHORITY, AND THOSE INDIVIDUALS
WHO WANT TO PROTEST AGAINST WHAT
THEY PERCEIVE AS SOCIAL
INJUSTICE...
LAND-GRABS, LAYOFFS, AND OTHER
FORMS OF ABUSE OF POWER.
SO, AS A RESULT,
CHINA TODAY PRESENTS YOU WITH A
VERY MIXED PICTURE.
ECONOMICALLY, IT
IS INTEGRATING WITH THE REST OF
THE WORLD.
POLITICALLY, IT IS GOVERNED BY A
RULING GROUP WHICH IS
TECHNICALLY EXTREMELY COMPETENT
BUT AT THE SAME TIME SHOWS NO
WILLINGNESS TO TAKE THE COUNTRY
DOWN THE ROAD OF DEMOCRACY.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS KIND
OF GOVERNMENT?
IT IS VERY HARD BECAUSE YOU
ALWAYS FIND ASPECTS OF THAT
GOVERNMENT THAT YOU LIKE AND
DETEST AT THE SAME TIME.
YOU CANNOT ALLOW...
NOW YOU'D BE VERY FOOLISH TO
ALLOW...
ONE TYPE OF EMOTION TO GOVERN
YOUR POLICY TOWARDS THAT KIND OF
POLITICAL SYSTEM.
SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US IN
TERMS OF CHINA'S RELATIONSHIP
WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD?
WHAT'S THE IMPLICATION OF THIS
KIND OF POLITICAL SYSTEM IN
CHINA FOR ITS FOREIGN POLICY?
LET ME FIRST, AS I DID IN THE
PREVIOUS SECTION, DEAL WITH THE
GOOD NEWS.
IN WASHINGTON, WHERE I LIVE AND
WORK, YOU HEAR A LOT OF WORRIES
ABOUT CHINA BEING "AN
EXPANSIONIST POWER."
CHINA IS RISING AND CHINA WILL
CHALLENGE THE SUPREMACY OF THE
UNITED STATES.
CHINA WILL DOMINATE, FIRST EAST
ASIA, THEN ASIA, THEN THE REST
OF THE WORLD.
IS THAT FOR REAL?
I THINK THE GOOD NEWS FOR US
THEN IS THIS IS FANTASY.
THIS IS NOT REAL.
CHINA, FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS,
IS A LONG WAY FROM BEING
TOMORROW'S SUPERPOWER.
I WOULD SAY THAT CHINA IS
UNLIKELY TO BE AN EXPANSIONIST
SUPERPOWER FIRST AND FOREMOST
BECAUSE THE CHINESE LEADERSHIP
UNDERSTANDS FULLY THAT FOREIGN
EXPANSIONISM WAS ONE OF THE MOST
IMPORTANT REASONS FOR THE
COLLAPSE OF THE FORMER SOVIET
UNION.
AND ECONOMIC GROWTH AND
PROSPERITY IS KEY TO THE
SURVIVAL OF THE CHINESE
COMMUNIST PARTY.
AND, BECAUSE THE CHINESE ECONOMY
IS NOW SO INTEGRATED WITH THE
REST OF THE WORLD, FOREIGN TRADE
ACCOUNTS FOR ALMOST 70 percent OF
CHINESE G.D.P.
JUST THINK OF THE OPENNESS OF
THE CHINESE ECONOMY AND THEN YOU
LOOK AT...
CHINA RELIES ON THE REST OF THE
WORLD FOR EXPORTS AND FOR
IMPORTS OF CRITICAL MATERIALS.
IF CHINA FOOLISHLY ENGAGED IN
MILITARY EXPANSIONISM ABROAD, IT
WILL ONLY ENDANGER THIS PEACEFUL
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
CRITICAL TO ITS CONTINUED
ECONOMIC GROWTH.
AND IF YOU LOSE THAT
INTERNATIONAL STABILITY, THEN
YOU CAN KISS GOODBYE YOUR
ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, AND THEN OF
COURSE YOU ARE GOING TO BE IN A
VERY, VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION
DOMESTICALLY.
SO THAT'S WHY I THINK THIS
DOMESTIC FOCUS OF THE CHINESE
COMMUNIST PARTY, THIS VERY
RATIONAL FOCUS, IS THE MOST
FUNDAMENTAL REASON FOR A
PRUDENT, PRAGMATIC FOREIGN
POLICY.
SO, ON THAT SCORE, WE DO NOT
HAVE TO WORRY.
SO, UH...
THE OTHER REASON FOR NOT
WORRYING ABOUT CHINA BEING AN
EXPANSIONIST POWER INTENT UPON
DOMINATING THE WORLD IS THAT
CHINA TODAY DOES NOT HAVE THE
MESSIANIC, VISIONARY WORLDVIEW.
IF YOU WANT TO DOMINATE THE
WORLD, YOU REALLY HAVE IDEAS.
POWER IS NOT ENOUGH.
YOU MUST HAVE SOME KIND OF
BELIEF THAT CONVINCES YOU THAT
THE WORLD OUGHT TO BE RUN THE
WAY YOU WANT IT.
THAT EXPLAINS WHY THE U.S. WANTS
TO BE THAT SUPERPOWER, BECAUSE
THE U.S. HAS THIS MESSIANIC VIEW
ABOUT ITS ROLE IN THE WORLD.
BUT CHINA TODAY IS...
ITS WORLDVIEW IS SO PROSAIC.
I DON'T THINK IT EVEN HAS A
WORLDVIEW OTHER THAN THE WORLD
EXISTS FOR US TO MAKE MONEY IN IT.

[Laughter]

Minxin continues I THINK THAT'S...
THEY SEE THE WORLD AS THEY SEE
DOLLAR SIGNS.
THEY DON'T SEE RED FLAGS.
SO, WITH THAT IN MIND, IT'S
ACTUALLY VERY HARD WHEN YOU DO
NOT HAVE DRIVING IDEOLOGY THAT
WOULD MAKE CHINA A VERY ACTIVIST
POWER IN THE WORLD.
AND, FINALLY, I WOULD SAY
DESPITE THE RAPID SPEED OF
CHINA'S GROWTH, CHINA TODAY, TO
GIVE YOU A REALITY CHECK,
REMAINS A VERY POOR COUNTRY IN
PER CAPITA TERMS.
2,000 dollars PER CAPITA IN EXCHANGE
RATE TERMS, AND THAT'S PROBABLY
1 seventeenth OF CANADA'S PER CAPITA
INCOME.
ROUGHLY, CANADA IS ABOUT
35,000 dollars.
AND, TECHNOLOGICALLY SPEAKING,
CHINA IS STILL ONE OF THE THIRD
WORLD COUNTRIES.
IN TERMS OF MILITARY CAPACITY,
CHINA CAN NEVER CHALLENGE THE
U.S.
CHINA HAS MUCH LESS CAPABLE
NAVAL AND AIR FORCES THAN JAPAN.
SO I THINK WE CAN, ON THIS
SCORE, I WOULD SAY THAT WE DO
NOT HAVE TO WORRY.
BUT THE KIND OF CHINA I
DESCRIBED EARLIER DOES PRESENT A
SERIOUS CHALLENGE FOR THE REST
OF THE WORLD, ESPECIALLY FOR
WESTERN DEMOCRACIES, FOR THE
FOLLOWING REASONS.
FIRST OF ALL, IT ALWAYS HAS A
HUMAN RIGHTS PROBLEM.
BECAUSE I THINK WESTERN
DEMOCRACIES DEFINE THEIR
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER
COUNTRIES, IN THE POST-COLD WAR
ERA, NOT ON THE BASIS OF
ECONOMIC TIES...
EVEN THOUGH ECONOMIC TIES ARE
IMPORTANT...
BUT ON THE BASIS OF THE NATURE
OF THEIR POLITICAL SYSTEM.
NOT BECAUSE WE ARE SO OVERLY
IDEOLOGICAL OR THAT WESTERN
DEMOCRACIES HAPPEN TO BELIEVE IN
SOME FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS.
I WOULD SUGGEST IT'S BECAUSE
THE DOMESTIC POLITICAL PROCESS
IN WESTERN DEMOCRACIES WILL
ALWAYS ELEVATE HUMAN RIGHTS TO
THE TOP OF THE AGENDA OF THEIR
GOVERNMENTS.
AND THAT'S A POLITICAL REALITY.
SO, IN THEIR RELATIONS IN CHINA,
AND AS LONG AS CHINA REMAINS A
ONE-PARTY POLITICAL SYSTEM,
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE LIMITS TO
THOSE RELATIONSHIPS.
THAT'S WHY, IN WASHINGTON, IT'S
SO INTERESTING TO OBSERVE THE
BODY LANGUAGE OF GEORGE BUSH
WHEN HE IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE
WITH THE CHINESE PRESIDENT.
HE WAS VERY, VERY NERVOUS.
CLUMSY.
HE WAS NOT NATURAL.
THE WAY HE WAS WITH KOIZUMI.
WITH AN ELECTED FOREIGN LEADER,
YOU DO NOT SEE THAT KIND OF
CONCERN.
I WOULD SAY HE...
OF COURSE, GEORGE BUSH DOES NOT
DRINK WINE.
HE'S A TEETOTALLER.
BUT JUST IMAGINE HE WOULD NOT.
CAN YOU IMAGINE HIM CLINKING
CHAMPAGNE GLASS WITH THE CHINESE
LEADER?
HE WOULD PROBABLY NOT WANT A
PICTURE TAKEN.
THERE'S A LEVEL OF DISCOMFORT
ALWAYS PRESENT IN THE MINDS OF
WESTERN LEADERS WHEN THEY DEAL
WITH UNELECTED LEADERS BECAUSE
THEY KNOW THAT THEY ARE NOT...
THEY ARE LEADERS BUT THEY ARE
NOT THE SAME TYPE OF LEADERS.
THEY FUNCTION ON DIFFERENT
PRINCIPLES.
THEY OBEY DIFFERENT RULES.
SO THERE'S ALWAYS A CEILING TO
THE RELATIONSHIP.
SO CHINA CAN NEVER BE A GENUINE
STRATEGIC PARTNER OF WESTERN
DEMOCRACIES AS LONG AS IT IS NOT
A DEMOCRACY.
CHINA WILL...
CHINA CAN BE A VERY USEFUL
TACTICAL PARTNER.
IF YOU WANT TO SOLVE A
PARTICULAR PROBLEM AND CHINA CAN
BRING TO THE TABLE VARIABLE
ASSETS, THEN YOU COUNT CHINA IN.
THAT'S WHY CHINA IS A PARTNER IN
SOLVING THE NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR
CRISIS.
AND IRAN.
BUT IT CAN NEVER...
YOU WILL NEVER INCLUDE CHINA IN
THE COLUMN OF PERMANENT FRIENDS.
IT IS...
SOMETIMES IT'S FRIEND,
SOMETIMES IT'S NOT.
AND THAT'S BECAUSE OF ITS
POLITICAL SYSTEM.
AND THE SECOND PROBABLY IS THAT,
BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE
POLITICAL SYSTEM, THE DOMESTIC
PROBLEMS OF CHINA WILL SPILL
OVER INTO THE INTERNATIONAL
ARENA.
BECAUSE ONE THING WE KNOW ABOUT
NON-DEMOCRATIC SYSTEMS IS THAT
THEY FUNCTION ON DIFFERENT
INCENTIVE STRUCTURES, THEY
RESPOND TO DIFFERENT
ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEMS, AND...
I'M NOT MAKING A GENERAL
STATEMENT BUT, BY AND LARGE, I
WOULD SAY THAT GOVERNANCE TENDS
TO BE POORER IN NON-DEMOCRATIC
SYSTEMS THAN IN DEMOCRATIC
SYSTEMS BECAUSE A DEMOCRATIC
SYSTEM HAS STABILITY TO MOBILIZE
ALL KINDS OF RESOURCES TO DEAL
WITH SOCIAL-ECONOMIC CHALLENGES.
SO IF THAT STATEMENT IS TRUE,
THEN THE KIND OF SOCIAL
ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS IN CHINA
WE SEE TODAY WILL HAVE
INTERNATIONAL CONSEQUENCES.
ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION.
AIR POLLUTION.
WATER SHORTAGE.
UH...
AND PUBLIC HEALTH, NEGLECT OF
PUBLIC HEALTH...
PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTERS.
AND I THINK, SPEAKING IN
TORONTO, I KNOW ALL OF YOU CAN
REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED IN MARCH
2003.
THE SARS CRISIS,
THE SARS EPIDEMIC.
AND WE ALL KNOW THAT THIS
COULD'VE BEEN PREVENTED WITHIN
CHINA HAD THEY HAD A MORE
TRANSPARENT SYSTEM...
MORE EFFECTIVE CRISIS MANAGEMENT
SYSTEM.
AND ALSO,
CORRUPTION WITHIN THAT SYSTEM.
BECAUSE AUTHORITARIAN
GOVERNMENTS TEND TO BE FAR MORE
CORRUPT THAN DEMOCRATIC
GOVERNMENTS.
THERE'S NO RULE OF LAW, NO PRESS
FREEDOM, NO N.G.O. MONITORING...
AND...
BUT I WOULD SAY THAT WHAT
WORRIES THE WEST MOST ARE TWO
ISSUES ABOUT CHINA.
AND THESE TWO ISSUES ARE ALL
CLOSELY RELATED TO THE NATURE OF
THE CHINESE POLITICAL SYSTEM.
THE FIRST ONE IS REALISM BECAUSE
THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE OF THE
CHINESE GOVERNMENT IN FOREIGN
POLICY IS NOT REVOLUTION.
IT IS REALISM.
REALISM IS OKAY.
REALISM MAKES GOVERNMENT
PRAGMATIC.
BUT, IN FACING THE FUTURE
CHALLENGES OF THE WORLD, REALISM
IS NOT ENOUGH.
REALISM PROVIDES A MINIMALIST
RECIPE FOR COPING WITH THE
ANARCHICAL NATURE OF THE WORLD
TO DEAL WITH...
IF YOU WANT TO PRESERVE ORDER
AND STABILITY, USE REALISM.
BUT WE ALL KNOW THAT, IN THE
NEXT 20, 30 YEARS, THE WORLD
WILL FACE ALL KINDS OF
CHALLENGES THAT WILL REQUIRE
MULTILATERALISM.
THEY'LL REQUIRE GENUINE
COOPERATION BETWEEN COUNTRIES.
AND THAT MEANS THAT YOU NEED A
DIFFERENT GUIDING PRINCIPLE FOR
YOUR FOREIGN POLICY.
THAT'S CALLED LIBERALISM.
AS IN CANADA, WESTERN EUROPE,
ARE GREAT EXAMPLES OF
INTERNATIONAL LIBERALISM BECAUSE
THESE COUNTRIES WOULD ALWAYS PUT
THEIR OWN NATIONAL INTERESTS
SECONDARY TO A LARGER GLOBAL
INTEREST.
UNFORTUNATELY, TODAY, I CANNOT
SAY THIS ABOUT THE U.S.
THE U.S. IS PRACTICING REALISM
UNDER GEORGE BUSH, AND SOME
WOULD EVEN SAY IT'S WORSE THAN
REALISM.
IT'S IMPERIALISM.
BUT CAN CHINA, UNDER ITS
UNDEMOCRATIC SYSTEM, ADOPT A
LIBERALIST INTERNATIONAL POLICY?
I THINK IT'S INCONCEIVABLE
BECAUSE, HISTORICALLY, WE'VE NOT
FOUND A SINGLE CASE OF AN
AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNMENT
PRACTICING LIBERALISM AT HOME...
THAT'S ALSO INHERENT IN THEM...
WHILE PRACTICING LIBERALISM
ABROAD.
YOU JUST DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF
COMPARTMENTALIZATION OF POLICY
BECAUSE, I THINK, FUNDAMENTALLY,
AN ILLIBERAL REGIME IS INCAPABLE
OF LIBERAL INTERNATIONAL POLICY.
THAT MEANS, IN THE FUTURE, IT
WILL BE VERY HARD TO GET CHINA
ON BOARD ON A SERIES OF GLOBAL
ISSUES, ESPECIALLY THE
ENVIRONMENT, ENERGY, GLOBAL
SECURITY, COLLECTIVE SECURITY...
THAT IT'S NO COINCIDENCE THAT
THE MOST SUCCESSFUL MILITARY
ALLIANCE TODAY AND IN HISTORY IS
LARGELY AN ALLIANCE AMONG
DEMOCRACIES.
AND IF YOU WANT TO LOOK AT HOW
EAST ASIA'S REGIONAL SECURITY
DILEMMA CAN BE SOLVED, I WOULD
SAY IT WOULD HELP A LOT IF ALL
THE COUNTRIES IN EAST ASIA WERE
DEMOCRACIES.
SO, I THINK THAT IS THE REAL
CHALLENGE...
HOW CAN CHINA OVERCOME ITS
AUTHORITARIAN REALIST FOREIGN
POLICY PARADIGM AND EMBRACE THIS
DEMOCRATIC INTERNATIONALIST
LIBERALISM PARADIGM?
AND OF COURSE THAT LEADS TO THE
NEXT ISSUE, A FAR MORE IMMEDIATE
CONCERN TO THE REST OF THE
WORLD...
NOT TO...
THE WEST.
THAT IS, CHINA'S RELATIONSHIP
WITH OTHER AUTHORITARIAN
REGIMES.
BECAUSE, IN MY LAST POINT, I WAS
TRYING TO SEE WHETHER CHINA CAN
GO BEYOND THE TRADITIONAL
REALIST MODEL.
BUT TODAY, WHAT WE OBSERVE IS
THAT CHINA IS BEING REALLY TOO
EXPERT IN PLAYING THE REALIST
GAME.
IT IS BECOMING...
IT IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE
ISOLATION OF MANNING REALLY
DETESTABLE AUTHORITATIVE REGIMES
AROUND THE WORLD, SUCH AS
MYANMAR, ZIMBABWE, SUDAN...
AND IT PROVIDES ECONOMIC
SUPPORT, SOMETIMES POLITICAL
SUPPORT, TO THESE REGIMES.
I THINK CHINA'S RELATIONSHIP
WITH THESE REGIMES MAKES IT VERY
HARD FOR OTHER WESTERN
DEMOCRACIES TO PUT REAL PRESSURE
ON THEM TO STOP GENOCIDE IN THE
CASE OF SUDAN, OR TO STOP
WIDESPREAD HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
IN THE CASE OF BURMA.
BUT JUST DO AN INTELLECTUAL
EXPERIMENT IN YOUR MINDS.
WOULD CHINA HAVE THE SAME KIND
OF COZY RELATIONSHIP WITH THESE
AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES IF CHINA
WERE A DEMOCRACY?
IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE, IS IT?
SO I THINK, AT THE END, LET ME
CLOSE BY SAYING THAT YOU SEE A
VERY MIXED DEPICTION EMERGING
BOTH WITH REGARDING TO CHINA...
TO THE NATURE OF THE CHINESE
POLITICAL SYSTEM AND, FLOWING
FROM THE NATURE OF THAT
POLITICAL SYSTEM, CHINA'S
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE REST OF
THE WORLD.
THE NEWS IS NOT ALL GOOD, NOT
ALL BAD.
THAT REQUIRES THE ABILITY TO
WALK AND CHEW CHEWING GUMS AT
THE SAME TIME...
WHICH IN WASHINGTON, AS YOU
KNOW, IS NOT THE ABILITY
EVERYBODY POSSESSES.
BUT THEN, THE LAST QUESTION IS
CAN WE DO ANYTHING TO CHANGE
CHINA?
WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE CHINA'S
POLITICAL SYSTEM CLOSE THE GAP
WITH ITS ECONOMIC SYSTEM; TO
MAKE THE MINDSET OF THE CHINESE
RULING ELITES MOVE CLOSER TO THE
MINDSET OF THE LEADERS OF
WESTERN DEMOCRACIES?
AS LONG AS THE MINDSETS ARE
DIFFERENT, THEY WILL ALWAYS HAVE
A COMMUNICATION PROBLEM.
THEY'LL ALWAYS TALK PAST EACH
OTHER.
WHEN THEY TALK...
I'VE NEVER BEEN TO A HUMAN
RIGHTS DIALOGUE BETWEEN CHINA
AND CANADA, OR BETWEEN CHINA AND
E.U., OR BETWEEN CHINA...
BUT I CAN IMAGINE HOW THE
CONVERSATION WOULD GO BECAUSE
THEY WOULD BE TALKING ABOUT
DIFFERENT TERMINOLOGIES.
THERE'S NO REAL EXCHANGE BECAUSE
THE PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVES
ARE SO DIFFERENT.
SO I WOULD SAY THAT IT'S VERY
DIFFICULT TO CHANGE THE
POLITICAL SYSTEMS OF ANOTHER
COUNTRY'S.
GEORGE BUSH IS LEARNING IT THE
HARD WAY.
WE SHOULD NOT REPEAT THE
AMERICAN LESSON.
BUT I DO KNOW THAT THERE ARE
SMALL THINGS WE CAN DO TO
DEMONSTRATE TO ALL KINDS OF
PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THE RULING
ELITE IN CHINA, THAT THEY ARE
ACTUALLY PAYING A PRICE FOR NOT
CLOSING THE GAP BETWEEN THEIR
POLITICAL SYSTEM AND THE
DOMINANT POLITICAL SYSTEMS IN
THE WORLD, NAMELY, DEMOCRACIES.
YOU MAY KNOW THE POLITICAL STORM
THAT CAME ABOUT IN THIS COUNTRY
WHEN THE CHINESE STATE-OWNED
COMPANY WAS TRYING TO ACQUIRE A
HUGE CANADIAN RESOURCE COMPANY?
OF COURSE, YOU ALSO REMEMBER THE
POLITICAL FIRESTORM IN
WASHINGTON WHEN CHINA'S OIL
COMPANY WAS TRYING TO PURCHASE
AN AMERICAN OIL COMPANY.
OF COURSE, YOU CAN QUESTION THE
ECONOMIC CALCULATIONS UNDERLYING
THESE DEALS.
BUT I WOULD SAY THE SITUATION
WOULD'VE BEEN VERY, VERY
DIFFERENT HAD CHINA BEEN A
POLITICAL SYSTEM THAT...
WHERE HUMAN RIGHTS ARE HIGHLY
PROTECTED...
WHERE ITS LEADERS ACTUALLY HAVE
TO RUN FOR OFFICE...
HAVE TO KISS BABIES, FOR A
CHANGE...
IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFERENT.
I WOULD SAY THAT...
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO SEE THE
SAME KIND OF POLITICAL
FIRESTORMS.
YOU WOULD...
DEBATE, THE NATURE OF THE
DEBATE, THE TERMS OF THE DEBATE
WILL BE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT.
THAT'S ACTUALLY THE PRICE CHINA
IS PAYING FOR NOT HAVING THE
SAME...
EITHER THE SAME KIND OF
POLITICAL SYSTEM OR NOT HAVING A
POLITICAL SYSTEM THAT'S MOVING
IN THAT DIRECTION.
BUT, AT THE END OF THE DAY, I
WOULD STILL, DESPITE MY PERSONAL
DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THE PACE OF
POLITICAL CHANGE IN CHINA, I
WOULD SAY THAT THE ONLY
ALTERNATIVE WE HAVE IS
ENGAGEMENT BUT NOT ON CRITICAL
ENGAGEMENT.
THE THING I DETEST MOST IS
HEAPING PRAISES ON YOUR CHINESE
COLLEAGUES; TELLING THEM THEY'VE
DONE NOTHING WRONG.
THAT'S NOT GOOD FOR THEM BECAUSE
THEY THEMSELVES DON'T BELIEVE
YOU.
YOU'VE GOT TO BE CRITICAL AND
ENGAGING AT THE SAME TIME...
WHAT I CALL CRITICAL ENGAGEMENT.
TELL THEM WHERE THEY'VE DONE
RIGHT, WHERE THEY'VE DONE WRONG.
THAT WAY, THEY ACTUALLY KNOW YOU
ARE NOT LYING TO THEM.
YOU GAIN THEIR RESPECT.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[Applause]

A black slate reads "Questions and answers."

A woman in her thirties rises from the audience and speaks into a microphone.

She says CHINA'S EFFORTS TO ENCOURAGE
NORTH KOREA TO...
THROUGH DIPLOMATIC MEANS NOT TO
TEST NUCLEAR MISSILES HAVE
CLEARLY FAILED.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CHINESE
GOVERNMENT WILL DO NOW IN ORDER
TO TRY TO PERSUADE THEM TO
RECONSIDER THIS COURSE OF ACTION?

Minxin says WELL, I...
I THINK WE'VE SEEN SEVERAL SIGNS
THAT ARE QUITE CLEAR.
CHINA WILL SUPPORT SOME SORT OF
SANCTIONS, CHINA WANTS TO
PUNISH NORTH KOREA AS WELL.
BUT CHINA DOES NOT WANT TO
ESCALATE THE CRISIS.
SO THERE HAS TO BE A WAY OF
SENDING THE MESSAGE, DELIVERING
THE PAIN, BUT NOT CAUSING SOME
REALLY BAD REACTION.
AND SO...
SO THAT MEANS YOU WILL SEE
PROBABLY SANCTIONS ON TRANSFER
OF TECHNOLOGY, OIL SUPPLIES, BUT
NOT FOOD AID PASSING THE U.N.
CHINA WILL NOT SUPPORT THE U.S.
IDEA OF INTERCEPTING NORTH
KOREAN SHIPPING ON THE PRETEXT
OF INSPECTION BECAUSE THAT MIGHT
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES TO MILITARY
CONFLICT.
AND CHINA PROBABLY WANT TO LEAVE
ROOM FOR FLEXIBILITY.
EITHER YOU DO NOT GO ALL THE WAY
SO THAT THE NORTH KOREANS GET
BEATEN UP ALL AT ONCE.
YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO ESCALATE
THE PRESSURE OR YOU WANT TO BE
ABLE TO REWARD, SAY, COOPERATIVE
BEHAVIOUR SOMETIME IN THE
FUTURE.
SO, BETWEEN...
YOU CAN SEE IT'S JAPAN AND THE
U.S. CLEARLY ARE TAKING VERY
TOUGH POSITIONS.
CHINA IS TAKING A MIDDLE ROUTE
AND SOMEWHERE, I THINK, YOU WILL
SEE A COMPROMISE EMERGING
BETWEEN THEM.

A man in his late fifties rises from the audience and says
ONE AREA THAT YOU DIDN'T
TOUCH UPON THAT I HAVE A KEEN
INTEREST IN HAS TO DO WITH THE
EXCHANGE RATE POLICY AND IT IS
CLEARLY AN IRRITANT BETWEEN
CHINA AND MANY WESTERN
COUNTRIES.
BUT THE QUESTION THAT I WANT TO
REALLY ASK IS WHAT IS SORT OF
THE NATURE OF THE INTERNAL
POLITICAL DEBATE?

Minxin says I WOULD SAY THAT,
IN THIS SYSTEM, THE BIGGEST
POLITICAL OBSTACLE IS RISK AVERSION...
BECAUSE, IN THIS CASE, WHO KNOWS
WHAT WILL HAPPEN 20 MONTHS OR 24
MONTHS FROM NOW WITH THE
SPILL OVER EFFECTS OF EXCHANGE
RATE APPRECIATION?
WHO KNOWS?
AND PEOPLE REALLY FEAR THE
UNKNOWN.
IF THEY KNOW WHAT'S GONNA
HAPPEN, THEN THEY WOULD TAKE
RESPONSIBILITY.
ALTHOUGH THE CHINESE ECONOMY HAS
BEEN GROWING, HAS BEEN
REFORMING, NOT ALL PARTS OF THE
ECONOMY ARE AS REFORMED;
AND THE MOST CRITICAL PARTS ARE
PERHAPS THE LEAST REFORMED.
AND ONE OF THOSE PARTS IS THE
FINANCIAL SECTOR.
WHY THE FINANCIAL SECTOR?
BECAUSE THE FINANCIAL SECTOR
REMAINS THE MOST IMPORTANT
INSTRUMENT WITH WHICH THE
GOVERNMENT CAN ACTUALLY
DETERMINE ECONOMIC POLICY.
SO IF YOU HAVE A WEAK FINANCIAL
SECTOR, HOW CAN YOU HAVE RAPID
EXCHANGE RATE APPRECIATION, THEN
CAPITAL COUNT...
OPENNESS.
ALL OF THAT WILL INCREASE THE
LIKELIHOOD OF FINANCIAL CRISIS
IN CHINA.
SO I THINK, WHEN
THEY LOOK AT THESE THINGS, THEY
WILL SEE ENORMOUS DOWNSIDES.
UNLESS EVERYBODY
WITHIN THE LEADERSHIP WILL AGREE
ON ONE SOLUTION, ONE APPROACH,
THEY'RE NOT GONNA MOVE.
SO THAT'S THE PROBLEM.

Now a man in his twenties from the audience says
YOU SPOKE A BIT ABOUT THE GOVERNANCE...
THE NEED TO IMPROVE GOVERNANCE
TO MATCH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
RATHER THAN JUST LOOKING AT
DEMOCRACY AS A SILVER BULLET TO
IMPROVE GOVERNANCE, DO YOU THINK
THAT A TRANSITION WOULD ALLOW
CHINA TO MAINTAIN THE ECONOMIC
GROWTH THROUGH A PERIOD OF
DEMOCRATIC ADJUSTMENT AND GROWING PAINS?

Minxin says IT'S A HUGE DILEMMA.
HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THE INCENTIVE
STRUCTURE?
HOW CAN YOU TRANSFORM THE
ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM?
HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE GOVERNMENT
MORE RESPONSIBLE?
WE KNOW DEMOCRACY PROVIDES ONE
SET OF SOLUTIONS.
I'M NOT COMPLETELY WEDDED TO THE
NOTION THAT DEMOCRACY IS THE
KEY.
DEMOCRACY WORKS WELL IN SOME
SOCIETIES SOMETIMES BECAUSE OF A
SET OF UNIQUE REASONS.
DEMOCRACIES HAVE NOT WORKED WELL
IN MANY SOCIETIES.
SO I'M NOT SO SURE THAT
INTRODUCING DEMOCRATIC POLITICS
ALONE WILL IMPROVE GOVERNANCE.
BUT THE POINT HERE IS THAT, EVEN
IF WE'RE NOT SO SURE, WE SHOULD
BE OPEN TO THE POSSIBILITY AND
WHAT DISAPPOINTS A LOT OF PEOPLE
IS THAT IN CHINA, AND ALSO IN
MANY OTHER AUTHORITARIAN
COUNTRIES, THE MINDS ARE CLOSED.
THEY'RE NOT EVEN GOING TO ALLOW
EXPERIMENTS IN THAT AREA.
DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION, IN MOST
CASES, PROBABLY WILL LEAD TO A
PERIOD OF SLOWER GROWTH BECAUSE
YOU DO HAVE POLITICAL
INSTABILITY ASSOCIATED WITH
TRANSITION.
SOMETIMES DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION
HAPPENS AS A RESULT OF
SPECTACULAR REGIME COLLAPSE...
FORMER SOVIET UNION, SUHARTO...
AND THEN YOU BRING IN NEW RULING
ELITES WHO MAY NOT BE
ECONOMICALLY SAVVY ENOUGH TO RUN
THE ECONOMY.
AND, OF COURSE, YOU DISRUPT
TRADE PATTERNS.
SO I THINK WE SHOULD NOT RULE
OUT THE CONSIDERABLE LIKELIHOOD
THAT ECONOMIC GROWTH WILL SUFFER
WHERE THERE IS ECONOMIC
TRANSITION.
THE REAL CHALLENGE IS NOT THE
TRANSITION ITSELF.
IT'S WHAT PEOPLE CALL WHETHER
THERE'S GOING TO BE THERAPY
AFTER THE SHOCK.
BECAUSE THE WORST OUTCOME YOU
WANT TO HAVE IS THAT SOCIETY
CHANGES ON THE SURFACE ITS
POLITICAL SYSTEM, SO YOU HAVE
SOME FORM OF DEMOCRACY, BUT WE
KNOW THAT DEMOCRATIC
INSTITUTIONS CAN BE ABUSED,
SOMETIMES, VERY SUCCESSFULLY.
BUT AFTER THIS TRANSITION,
THERE'S NO FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN
THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE POLITICAL
ELITES.
SO BASICALLY YOU HAVE THE SHOCK
AND NO THERAPY.
THAT'S WHY, I THINK, YOU LOOK
AROUND THE WORLD AND THE MOST
SUCCESSFUL...
NEW DEMOCRACIES, MANY NEW
DEMOCRACIES ARE NOT VERY
SUCCESSFUL ECONOMICALLY.
BUT THEN, WHO ARE WE TO MAKE THE
CHOICE?
BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO MAKE...
WE HAVE TO PLACE SOME VALUE ON
YOUR ABILITY TO GO TO BED
WITHOUT FEARING BEING ARRESTED
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT,
RIGHT?
I THINK YOUR PERSONAL AND
POLITICAL FREEDOMS ARE WORTH
SOMETHING.
SO I THINK...
AND HUMAN RIGHTS ARE WORTH
SOMETHING.
SO I THINK WE SHOULD AVOID THIS
DEATHLY FEAR OF DEMOCRATIC
TRANSITION.
BUT OF COURSE, AT THE SAME TIME,
WE SHOULD NOT HARBOUR OVERLY
ROMANTIC NOTIONS ABOUT
DEMOCRATIZATION.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[Applause]

The clip ends, and Andrew Moodie reappears in the studio.

He says I SUPPOSE IT'S
REASSURING TO HEAR MINXIN PEI
DECLARE THAT CHINA HAS NO
IMPERIALIST INTENTIONS.
HOWEVER, I CAN'T SEEM TO SHAKE
THAT NAGGING THOUGHT AT THE BACK
OF MY HEAD THAT, ONCE CHINA
TRULY MODERNIZES, IT'S GONNA BE
HARD TO RESIST THAT URGE TO TRY
TO ARRANGE THE WORLD TO SUIT ITS
INTERESTS.
IT IS IN THE NATURE OF POWER.
THE QUESTION IS, WHAT IDEAS WILL
ANIMATE CHINA'S RISE TO POWER?
WILL PRAGMATISM BE ENOUGH?
TIME WILL TELL.
SPEAKING OF TIME, IF YOU WOULD
LIKE TO LISTEN TO
BIG IDEAS
LECTURES AT A TIME THAT IS
CONVENIENT TO YOU, WELL, YOU CAN
DO SO BY GETTING A HOLD OF OUR PODCASTS.
TO DO SO, GO
TO OUR WEB SITE AT...

A caption reads "www.tvo.org/bigideas"

Andrew says AND IF YOU'D
LIKE TO KNOW WHAT'S GONNA BE ON
BIG IDEAS
NEXT, WELL,
PLEASE ASK US FOR A WEEKLY
UPDATE AT bigideas@tvo.org
I'M ANDREW MOODIE.
SEE YOU NEXT TIME.

[Speaking in Chinese]
[Chuckles]

[Theme music plays]

The end credits roll.

bigideas@tvo.org

416-484-2746

Big Ideas. Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Producers, Lara Hindle, Mike Miner, Gregg Thurlbeck.

Logos: Unifor, Canadian Media Guild.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2006, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Minxin Pei